Two kids in the hospital and nothing in the bank
SEATTLE -- Cancer has become a way of life for Lynsie Conradi. The bald 23-year old, whose favorite color is pink, has relapsed repeatedly since age 15.
"It's just been so long now that I've either had cancer or am waiting for it to come back that it's just life," she said.
Lows in Lynsie's life have been balanced with highs. She met and married her husband Rodney in the hospital. They wed attached to IV tubes.
"It was magical, amazing, awesome," she said.
Her husband died within a few weeks of their vows.
Today, Lynsie lives at the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle with her mother, Donna Rainford. The Bellingham family needs to be near Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, where Lynsie has seven appointments a week.
After her cancer came back last March, Lynsie became Washington state's first Leukemia patient to try a new treatment called cellular immunotherapy. Lynsie's T-cells were pulled, put into a tube, trained to recognize and attack only leukemia cells and returned to her body.
Within a week she was cancer free. The treatment means the world to Lynsie's mom.
"It means that my daughter is alive. Lynsie quit responding to chemotherapy. If it wasn't for this T-cell therapy, Lynsie wouldn't be alive," Donna said.
However, the highs regarding Lynsie's health have been met by frightening financial lows. Lynsie's mom has been sideswiped by another struggle. Her son, who was a bone marrow match for his sister, has his own medical issues.
"I have two kids in the hospital and no money in the bank," she said.
Donna lost her job after taking so much leave time to help her daughter. She was a home health care worker and figured the position might be available when her daughter got better. But the company closed and now Donna wonders how she could find time for a full-time job with one child hospitalized in Bellingham and a daughter receiving daily medical treatment in Seattle.
Donna relies on her church for help, but has no idea how she'll handle future bills.
"There's a lot of people out there that love us but I'm worried about paying the bills. I'm worried about keeping a roof over our head," she said.
When Lynsie leaves the hospital she'll need to remain in isolation at home for a year. Her immune system is shot and even a cold could end in pneumonia. The highs and lows continue for Lynsie's family.
"One day I'm up and one day I'm down. One day is good, one day's a struggle," Donna said.
After eight months of treatments, Lynsie hopes to be home for the holidays.
"If we could be home by Christmas, we would be feeling blessed," Donna said.
Donna said what happens next is in God's hands.
"There's nothing I can do so I just take it one day at a time and pray that things will work out," she said.
If you'd like to help Donna Rainford, you can do so here.